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Old Mar 13, 09, 7:01 pm
FlyerTalk Evangelist
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Atlanta, GA, USA
Programs: Frontier 50K elite, DL estranged 1MMer, Spirit VIP, CO/NW/UA/AA once gold/plat/comped gold now dust.
Posts: 30,821
I've come close. Back in 1996 I took a buyout from where I was working with the plan of applying the proceeds to an RTW-style trip. The nascent Internet then had an RTW message board with some helpful info.

However, because using accumulated miles was a big part of the plan and because the alliances that exist today were just getting started, my plan morphed into going to BKK and using it as a base to explore as far afield as I could, taking advantage of bargain airfares out of BKK and mileage-redemption opportunities. I had decided early on that I would have a strong bias toward "cheap" countries so that I could stretch the funds and stay out longer.

So I'd do trips of maybe 100-110 days at a time and book the onward travel out of BKK. It worked very well, leading to trips to places like Chiang Mai, Laos (twice), Vietnam (memorable), Nepal (also very memorable), the Spice Islands and Irian Jaya, Bali, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Taiwan and several other places in the region, often via air hops rather than extended time on the ground. I'd meet backpackers who were heading 50 miles down the road on a day when I was flying some 2,000 miles, or would be upgraded on a flight but would arrive to stay in a $10 guesthouse.

The heavy travel lasted for more like 3 years, as I dipped into retirement savings to ride the lower costs made possible by the 1997 financial crisis. In normal times that's a terrible financial decision, but those weren't normal times. The financial crisis was an unusual event (cutting some travel costs temporarily in half!) and the dotcom crash really pinched the remaining savings in late 2000. The asset values STILL haven't recovered their old highs.

Anyway, as for boredom, it USED to be a bigger concern than it is now. Back in 1996 I'd hunt around for an international edition of USA Today just to see what was going on, which is sorta laughable now with cybercafes everywhere. If the place was really exceptionally dull (Kalibo, Philippines, or Bandaraya, Indonesia) I'd bring reading material, Xieng Kwang, Laos, probably really took the cake, as electricity went off at 11 each night.

Places with large numbers of backpackers like Kathmandu or Ko Pha-Ngan would have cheap places to hang out, usually open late. You could be as sociable (or not) as you wanted. In some instances, like Vietnam, the backpacker tours were so cheap that it didn't make any sense to try to do it independently (you'd have a group of 9-10).

I also once did a "poor man's RTW" on DL/SQ using 70K DL miles. It went ATL-ORD-AMS (5-day stop)-SIN (1 day)-BKK (2 months, with sidetrips). Had to return over the Atlantic, even though it'd be shorter to go back via the Pacific, because if I took the shorter route it'd count as an RTW and would cost 60K more miles.
RustyC is offline